I fear that this healing will be kind of a long time. Like, forever. I have been relationally, vocationally, spiritually, emotionally and mentally stuck for about that long. I look around me and see nothing I’m good at, nothing I feel I can do (and so, consequently, nothing I want to do – who wants to fail all the time?) and nowhere to fit in. I have asked for help from others, followed the rules and advice. I have been asking God in all the ways I know how for direction, for a (revelation of?) calling, for help, guidance, healing. Now, there have been things I couldn’t believe would ever happen and they did. There have been things that took a very long time to happen but finally did. This feels different. Everything seems so empty now and it feels like I really wasn’t made for anything or anywhere at all.
Part of the problem, I think, is that I come off as angry and/or dramatic. Well-meaning people try to help and I react out of this sense that I am either not being understood or am not being taken seriously (cliched advice and advice given without showing me you really understand my situation seem to always trigger a reactive response from me). When I say I don’t know how to connect with God, when I say the Bible terrifies me and makes it “clear” to me that I will be one of the ones thrown out at the end of the age and fills with me either drivenness to go out there and do great things for God or anxiety because I’m too alone, exhausted and confused to try anymore, when I say I have heart palpitations when I look at the nothingness that is my life in comparison to what God asks and all I get in response, if anything at all, is “I’ll pray for you!” or “Read your Bible more,” I will not feel that I am being taken seriously or like I’m understood.
My church situation includes very close relationships being broken because of judgments about me based on either unfair projections of others’ feelings onto me, this situation or blatantly false rumors about me, mis- and missing information, contradictory information and a completely neglected promise at the beginning from the “mediator” that my husband and I could be as involved as we wanted to be in this process. It includes two men, who knew me or were perceived to know me, very well not standing up for me or defending me in ways their relationship to me called for, thereby influencing others’ opinions of me in very negative ways. It includes a lot of excuse making and sharing of my story without my permission (and without telling me what was shared) in the name of “being helpful” and it includes a lot of abandonment. It includes a lot of questioning of my perceptions and a lot of making excuses for people for not being totally honest with me for hurting my feelings. But when I’m angry, everyone rushes to correct me with advice on forgiveness (as if I’ve never heard the concept before), vague generalities about how it’s not really about me or even comments about my story is “too negative” and makes it seem like there’s “nothing good in the Church.”
I want to say that this is my story and I have to tell it the way I need to tell it, that attempting to censor or edit another’s experience is not love and not fair and that if this – anger, “negativity,” emotions – bothers you, then you don’t have to read my words. I don’t think I need to clarify before every sentence that this is my story, these are my perceptions, because that’s how personal writing works. It’s not that I’m okay being completely alone (who is?) but I am okay with not everyone liking me. Most people – at least most that I interact with – state their perceptions as facts; I’m aware that other people have different experiences. That doesn’t mean my are wrong.
But it might mean *I* am wrong. I keep having this stuff happen to me – mostly, what I mean is just not belonging anywhere. During seminary, there were over 15 emails I sent to professors (some about getting papers I’d written for class back or about rec letter stuff) that were never answered and, though it wasn’t just me that got ignored on some of these occasions, a few weeks after the shooting at the school last June, I spent several days working up the bravery to ask for a meeting with a particular professor to process. I never heard back, though I did see this prof meeting with other students around that time.
“Don’t take it personally” doesn’t help – and not just because it misses my point here. It’s likely because I grew up being misunderstood and missed completely, but I’m pretty sensitive to that kind of thing. Explanations that guess what others are thinking don’t help and suggestions for what I could do to “fix” the situation (like, write another email, stop by the prof’s office, etc.) don’t take into account my rapacious fear of burdening people and my crippling social anxiety. Can I just say “that hurt?” and have that be the most important thing for five minutes? Can not getting a response to an email I agonized over for days about talking over a school shooting just be painful and that’s it for a little while? Can it just be okay that I felt ignored and brushed off after doing a lot of work to reach out regardless of intention and before I have to do anything?
One unanswered email seems like a little thing and by itself it is. But then, a piece of straw isn’t that big, either. At least not compared to a camel’s back, especially if that camel has been seeking – but not yet finding – community since it can remember. It should just be able to keep on going, right? Perhaps, in some cases, though, it’s somehow the camel’s fault. Maybe everyone who questions my perceptions is right and I’m the problem. I get a lot of complaints that “no one else” thinks like I do or that I’m the “first” ever to say what I’ve said to them so therefore, everyone else must be right or something. Maybe I am just not enough like everyone else, just too different – and therefore difficult to ever find a clan of camels that would welcome me.